Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Easter Time at the Cathedral!

May 8th, 2011 · No Comments

For the last portion of my volunteer hours I decided to have a change of scenery and volunteer down at the Norwich Cathedral for the Easter festivities. Again my volunteer hours included small children. This was my first time actually visiting the inside of the Cathedral. To my surprise the Cathedral’s interior  appeared to be much more enormous than its  exterior. But just like every Cathedral I have visited in England there were dead people and monuments where ever you looked and stepped. I guess some things don’t change. For the volunteer services I was assigned the arts and crafts table. I predict they knew of my quality background with the Brownies. The arts and crafts table consisted of making Easter Baskets for the egg hunt, Easter Card making, coloring, Jesus fortuneteller making, Easter word searches. Luckily both days I had help from Jess and Sheila one of the nicest older persons I’ve met in Norwich . Together the three of us were able to handle the multitude of families that came our way.

The days were long from 10 am to 2pm. However, unlike the Brownie pact the Cathedral seemed a lot more organized in their event coordination, especially when taking into consideration the amount of people that arrived. In addition, unlike my Brownie pack there was a lot more diversity in the people who visited. The truth is the Brownie pack costs money, which many working class families can’t afford making the pack itself very one dimensional. At the Cathedral in contrast I saw people of different economic backgrounds, races, and nationalities. It was refreshing in a sense to meet different people while simultaneously be scrutinized for my accent and complexion.

In my short time in the cathedral I also made a best friend of four, named Charlotte. She called me her best-friend because I told her the basket she made was the best even better than my own. My life is complete I have a best friend!

After coming home and reflecting on my experience in both the Brownies and the Cathedral I have convinced myself that a career with children is not for me. I have the highest respect for the adults who have the patience to work with children day in-and- out. I also have accepted that not joining the scouts back at home was possibly the best thing for me. And I have resolved that if I ever have kids not to make them participate in such things. Instead I think I will make them join football or Karate, something normal. The experience I have had in both locations and the things I have learned were completely unexpected but very valuable.

Supervisor: Julia Corbett

Volunteer Hrs on April 12th: 4hrs

Volunteer Hrs on April 13th: 4 hrs

Total Volunteer Hrs to date: 22hrs

Tags: 2010 Jamie

Brownie Munchkins: Mother’s Day!!! Wait isn’t it April?!?

May 8th, 2011 · No Comments

Did you know that Mother’s Day is different in England? Apparently, the English decided Mother’s day is the first Sunday of April.  Day three of Brownie Munchkins was Mother’s day arts and crafts. The girls were allowed to decorate wooden frames for their moms and make cards from scratch. I was put in charge to patrol the girls’ sleeves from all the wet paint lying on the tables. However most of the time I was hoping the girls’ would let me squeeze in between them so that I could use the rubber stamps to make Momma Lopez a card. The plan quickly failed as I was reminded by a seven year old that I’m an adult and I was suppose to be watching over them and not playing next to them. When did that happen? I still love arts and crafts! I mean I still know how to color within the lines. Oh well I guess it’s time to accept I’m old.

But before I run away with how depressing it is to be called old by a child, I want to relate what I learned about the Brownies today. I learned from one of the girls, Summer, about the origin of the name “Brownies.” The name brownies originates from the title of one of the first ever children’s stories, written by Juliana Horatia Ewing in 1870. In the story two little children go in search of a “Brownie” is suppose to have magical abilities and tidy up houses without anyone’s knowledge. The children’s quest leads them to a pond where the children say “Twist me and turn me and show me the elf, I looked in the water and there saw…”.’
“Who? Who? Who?” hooted the Owl. “Look into the water and you’ll find your Brownie looking back at you.”This is part of the story is how the brownies of today get initiated, by going with a friend who knows the way to a pond where they see their own reflection. I found it very intriguing that the whole story is basically a morality story for children to behave as they are told by adding a little magic to it. If you’re interested in reading the full text of the story click on this link: http://www.angelfire.com/mi2/pud/browniestory.html

Supervisor: Sam Hubbard

Volunteer Hrs on April 1st: 3 hrs

Total Volunteer Hrs to date: 14hrs

Tags: 2010 Jamie

One of the Cathedral’s many Education Days!

May 8th, 2011 · No Comments

May 4: 9:30-3:30, Norwich Cathedral, Supervised by Juliet Corbett

Today I got to participate in The Creation! That’s sort of a big deal.

I got to work closely with Juliet, which was awesome because when I volunteered at the Cathedral before I didn’t get to see her very often because she was so busy. She and I, along with one other volunteer who took the groups on tours of the Cathedral, worked with two groups of children- one which consisted of kids ages 4 to7 and one of kids 8 to11- to tell them the story of The Creation in a way which they could easily understand. Mary would take one group on a tour of the Cathedral while Juliet and I did a crafts project with the other group.

First we took the kids to the Herb Garden where they got to look at all of the different herbs and cut off pieces to use in a craft project later. When we got back to the room, Juliet would tell the story of The Creation with visual aids and would then explain the activity, which involved gluing things of their creation to a large backdrop consisting of a land- and seascape. We helped children, then, as they created the animals and plants to be part of the world of their creation. It was actually amazingly fun. I really got in touch with my inner child: when we had a free moment I made a tiger out of felt. I’m pretty proud of its artistic merit.

The kids, who were great fun, came with their teacher and some parent volunteers all the way from Diss. The teacher made the effort to get to know things about me and even asked if I was planning to go into teaching. The children also were very curious about who I was (particularly because of my accent) and really enjoyed telling me about themselves.

Unfortunately, because of British law, I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures of the activity because it involved children so I had to settle with using the image from the Cathedral’s website about community learning.

Photo courtesy of Norwich Cathedral (http://www.cathedral.org.uk/learning/community-learning-introduction-.aspx)

Photo courtesy of Norwich Cathedral (http://www.cathedral.org.uk/learning/community-learning-introduction-.aspx)

After volunteering I, once again, got to experience a side of the Cathedral that most people don’t get to see: Juliet took me to look at (and play with) some really old Bibles. One was from 1536 and another was supposedly the Bible on which Queen Victoria was sworn in!! It’s obvious that volunteering opens the door to all kinds of cool experiences that I could never anticipate!

Tags: 2010 Jessica · Churches and Cathedrals

The Norwich Cathedral Easter Experience, Day 1!

May 8th, 2011 · No Comments

April 12: 9:30-3:30, Norwich Cathedral, Supervised by Juliet Corbett

(Juliet Corbett (jcorbett@cathedral.org.uk)
Norwich Cathedral
12 The Close
Norwich, Norfolk
Tel 01603 218320

My job at the Easter Experience was to supervise the arts and crafts table, one of nine ‘stations’ located around Norwich Cathedral. At the crafts table, children ages 3-11 could do a few different Easter-related activities, including colouring pictures, completing word searches, creating ‘fortune tellers’ featuring Bible trivia, and, the most popular activity, making their own cardstock Easter baskets to take to the Cathedral’s herb garden for an Easter egg hunt.

photo courtesy of the Norwich Cathedral (http://www.cathedral.org.uk/learning/information-for-teachers-introduction.aspx)

Photo courtesy of the Norwich Cathedral (http://www.cathedral.org.uk/learning/information-for-teachers-introduction.aspx)

The entire Experience was put together by the Education Team at the Cathedral which aims to educate children through fun, hand-on activities, promoting creativity and faith. The Experience was open to anyone (as long as they within the required age range) and it seems that a lot of people, both from Norwich and surrounding villages took advantage of the opportunity. Sarah and the other volunteers running the egg hunt in the Herb Garden had a donation

box to help cover the cost of the supplies, but there was no entry fee.

I had an awesome time working at the Cathedral! I was initially a little worried because I’m really shy and not exactly the best at interacting with people I don’t know, but I needn’t have worried because the activities were

fun and most of the people were so friendly. My job was mostly to help the younger kids with constructing their Easter baskets (which were even too challenging for some of the parents to figure out) which means that I spent a lot of the day covered in glue and glitter and felt pen. Many of the kids were really appreciative and their parents would engage me in conversation about my time in Norwich as an American.

As someone who is non-religious, it was not only an interesting experience, but also an enlightening one. It was really interesting to see the inner workings of a religious institution and how it handled one of the most important holidays of the year. At six of the ‘stations’ in the Experience, volunteers would tell the kids about the story of the Resurrection in manageable chunks in order to hold their interest. The volunteers would engage the children, both by conversing with them and by letting them participate in some of the activities. For example, at the Garden of Gethsemane station, they got to make little animals out of modelling clay, and at another station they had their feet washed as Christ was said to do. I thought the Cathedral did an excellent job of organising and activity day that was education about the faith without being overly preachy or indoctrinating.

All of the volunteers I met were extraordinarily welcoming and friendly and I definitely had a great experience working at the Cathedral.

Juliet Corbett (jcorbett@cathedral.org.uk)

Norwich Cathedral

12 The Close




Tel 01603 218320

Tags: 2010 Jessica · Churches and Cathedrals

Let’s Torque about Norwich Castle

May 8th, 2011 · No Comments

Image taken from http://www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/Learning/Norwich_Learning/Teacher_Resources/KS2_Egyptians_and_Romans/index.htm

There was a new addition to the Norwich Castle Museum Education Department’s office when Holly and I arrived that morning – a Will and Kate paper doll set. A cheery note was left next to some blank paper, scissors and a pencil: “Feel free to create your own outfit!” So naturally, Holly and I spent our lunch break dressing up Will and Kate for their big day. We even built them a little castle of their own out of cardboard. Too bad I did not think to take a picture.

Other than that exciting tidbit, my second day at the Norwich Castle was spent in much the same fashion as my first. I did some more photocopying, and get this – they ask ME for computer help. Me, the woman who has a computer that breaks down every time she tries to turn it on. Apparently, the staff in the Education Department are not too computer savvy, and so they asked me to copy several CDs for them. The disks were filled mostly with pictures from activity days, but there were other documents as well. Much to my surprise, I was actually able to copy all of the files with no problem at all. It was quite the empowering moment. I was also asked to type up some of Daniel’s (my supervisor) text for the Norwich Castle Museum’s website. I do not think it has been posted yet, but maybe someday soon.

What time was not spent on office tasks was again spent on craft preparations. We made more torques and what look to be mini torques, but I haven’t been told their real use yet, so I cannot be certain what they actually are.

So far I have been back once already since completing my hours, but I plan to continue volunteering until I head home for New York in June.

If you are interested in learning more about the Education Department or just the Norwich Castle in general click on the link provided: http://www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/index.htm

Date: 29/4/2011

Supervisor: Daniel Pounds

Time: 9:30-3:30, 6

Total Hours: 21.5

Tags: 2010 Sarah

All Access Pass to the Norwich Castle

May 8th, 2011 · No Comments

Image taken from norfolk4families.co.uk

My first day at Norwich Castle began with a tour (led by our own Holly Bowers who also volunteers there) of the museum. We walked through several art exhibits, a section on wildlife and natural history, the torture chamber, and of course the castle keep. The museum has attractions for every generation, but its focus is primarily on young children. I found as I walked through that with the exception of the art exhibits, every room took a hands on approach. There were things for the children to touch and move around, making the experience fun and educational. The museum has a classroom for visiting schools and their own museum club programs. There is even a “picnic room” for the kids to eat their lunch in.

Image taken from myfinepix.co.uk

The rest of the day was filled with run of the mill office tasks like photocopying and preparations for the craft activities. The photocopies I made were put together in pamphlets to educate instructors about the museum club activities. They talked different approaches to teaching and learning and how the museum activities strives to foster that learning. They also provided several examples of sample lessons an instructor might try to incorporate into their activities.

The crafts were more fun to do – they reminded me of things I used to do in school and camp when I was a young child. One is an origami project, so Holly and I spent a lot of time folding paper. The other project we worked on was creating torques for their “Iron Age Day” out of wire.

Of course the coolest part of the entire experience was getting my own, all access, backstage pass, swipey card to the museum. We entered the museum through the employee only entrance and the security team fitted us out with identification badges and a key card that allows you entrance to all of the staff only doors. As you can imagine, I felt very important.

Date: 23/3/2011

Supervisor: Daniel Pounds

Time: 9:30-4, 6.5 hrs

Total Hours: 15.5

Tags: 2010 Sarah

A Jew running an Easter egg hunt?

April 28th, 2011 · No Comments

Picture taken by Stephenie McGucken

A few weeks ago I received an email from Stephenie McGucken asking if I was interested in volunteering for the Norwich Cathedral’s Easter activities. I immediately replied YES. Who turns down an opportunity involving candy? Even though I myself am Jewish, a good portion of my family is Christian and we have an Easter egg hunt every year. I always had fun and I enjoy working with kids so I thought it would be a nice way to earn my volunteer hours. Although the experience turned out to be a little different than I expected, it was a positive one nonetheless.

We began by setting up the crafts table for the kids (and by we I mean Stephenie, Jess, Jamie and I). They were given Easter bunnies to color in and were able to build and decorate their own little paper Easter baskets for collecting eggs. My next job was to guide guests from the entrance of the Cathedral to story time which was the first activity station. This got a little tricky when the woman who was supposed to be working the station went missing for a few minutes. This meant that I had to be the fill in story teller.

As can be imagined, I felt more than a little uncomfortable reading a story about the resurrection of Jesus. It felt wrong to be telling a story which I don’t believe in. It seemed to me a lot like brainwashing. I realize that every religion, even my own, has its own collection of stories that it teaches to young children, but I still felt uncomfortable reading to the children. So I made the decision to politely decline to read should the situation come up again, and I moved on to the egg hunt.

Later on in the day, I mentioned to the priest that I had felt a bit awkward about being Jewish and volunteering to help with the Easter festivities. We had a really interesting discussion on the benefits of participating in other religion’s traditions. For while I had some difficulty reading the Easter book, it did help me to gain a better understanding of Christian beliefs. I know it sounds corny, but understanding really is the first step towards tolerance.

Date: 12/04/11

Time: 10-2

Hours: 4 Total: 4

Supervisor: Juliet Corbett

Tags: 2010 Sarah

Final Volunteer Blog

March 31st, 2011 · No Comments

Image taken from http://www.yourlocalweb.co.uk/images/pictures/17/13/new-hope-christian-centre-norwich-168780.jpg

As the title suggests, this blog marks the last time I will be writing about my time volunteering with the New Hope Christian Centre Kids’ Club.

With the weather being perfect outside today and daylight savings time allowing plenty of sunlight, the club took place outside the whole time today. The kids were free to play basketball, play dodgeball, run around, face-paint (which worked surprisingly well and did not end in disaster), or anything else they pleased. This lead to semi-controlled chaos. At one point, we actually got a 2-on-2 basketball game going. This achievement must be qualified by the fact that 1) It lasted about five minutes before it devolved into arguing 2) It only involved four people. Besides that, it was just kids running around for an hour while we all walked around and watched to make sure no one got into any trouble. After they left, we cleaned up and went home as normal.

As a result of this, I found myself without anything notable to say about this week. Which is a shame, particularly given this is the last blog. However, sometime that happens. After 9 consecutive clubs where I learned something interesting or noticed something new, there was bound to be a week where nothing happened. That’s life, I suppose.

Volunteered on 31/03/2011

From 18:00-20:00

2 Hours: Total of 20 Hours

New Hope Christian Centre

Supervisor: Duane Elkins

Tags: 2010 Andrew

Church, State, and Lottery

March 24th, 2011 · No Comments

Wow, what an amazing couple of days it has been weather-wise! Walking to the New Hope Christian Centre this evening was an absolute joy. With the sun out, a nice breeze, and barely a cloud in sight, I could have walked another two or three miles without complaint.

Arriving at kids’ club, I was told we were going to be doing a “focus group” with the kids. This meant sitting them in a circle and asking them some questions about how the club was and what they wanted to see done differently, while filming their answers. The filmed responses would then be sent to the government in the hopes of receiving a grant for Community Action Norwich. The grant would go towards improving community programs in Lakenham like the kids’ club. I wonder now if the questionnaires the kids filled out the other week had something to do with this grant as well, but I did not think then to ask. What I was thinking: “How in the world are we going to get these kids to sit and talk for five or ten minutes?”

It proved quite difficult to get the kids to sit and talk for five or ten minutes. Despite being promised biscuits at the end and being allowed to sit on bean bag chairs (which for some reason they love) there was still chaos when the questions were asked. Duane got through all the questions, and he hopefully got the footage he needed. However, at no point was only one person talking. Also, he got some very unhelpful, not-serious answers. I do not think suggestions like “make school two hours a day for three days a week” or “lets start a pyromaniac club and play with fire” were exactly what we were looking for.

Some interesting information did come out of the questions. For one, none of the kids do homework, despite being assigned it. Hearing this really makes one question the reliance on homework in these kinds of communities. In addition, it sheds light on the environment these kids are coming from. On a similar note, nearly every kid said they would spend all their time on Facebook were it not for the kids club. Whether these kids should be on Facebook is one thing, but its sad to think what little structure there is for them.

Facebook could be monitored by the government

Image obtained from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/facebook/5046447/Facebook-could-be-monitored-by-the-government.html

When the “focus group” finished, there was a snack and a game of manhunt.

After the kids left for the evening, I asked Duane about the grant the group was applying for. Apparently, the UK government must give a certain amount of revenue from the Lottery to community charities around the country. It is this money that Community Action Norwich is applying for. Duane said there is some controversy among the Christian community in the UK as to whether Christian organizations should apply for the funds. Since it comes from a morally questionable source, and draws money from poor communities disproportionally, money from the Lottery is seen by some to be unacceptable. However, Duane argued that as long as the money is going to come from these communities when many play in the Lottery, it should go back to them in some way. Community Action Norwich is one way to do that. In addition, he said some recent research found that almost all government funded projects in the UK involves some money obtained through the Lottery. If one does not accept money directly from the Lottery on moral grounds, one must, by extension, accept nothing from the government.

I agree with Duane’s arguments concerning the lottery issue, but am more skeptical about issues concerning Christian organizations receiving government financial assistance. If an organization takes government money, it arguably should not endorse specific religious views. I highly doubt anyone would disagree with anything that goes on at the kids’ club, as I’ve never seen any proselytizing. However, if a kid asked a spiritual question, or a similar opportunity arose, I wonder what would happen. If the group acted in an explicitly Christian manner, and was receiving government funding, I would expect and respect taxpayers with divergent views to be upset about it in the same way I would not want my tax dollars going towards a group that spread beliefs about another religion. However, I also would not want the group to be constrained to speak on the account of government money. If those in a Christian or other religious group can never talk about their faith, the group, in my opinion, loses much of its identity and purpose, if not all of it. This conundrum is why I am skeptical of the Faith-Based Initiative program in the United States. While not unconstitutional in my opinion, the program provides an argument for why there should be separation between the institutions of church and state (key word-institution, I think “separation of church and state” gets thrown around and misused way too often, but thats a whole other story)

However, maybe getting funding from a Lottery may be somewhat of a solution. Unlike paying taxes, buying a lottery ticket is voluntary. If you do so, you are making an active decision and are agreeing to wherever that money will go. As long as lottery ticket buyers know their money might go to a religious charity, I do not see the problems that I listed above.

For more information about the UK lottery, visit http://www.national-lottery.co.uk/player/p/goodcausesandwinners.ftl

Volunteered on 24/03/2011

From 18:00-20:00

2 Hours: Total of 18 Hours

New Hope Christian Centre

Supervisor: Duane Elkins

Tags: 2010 Andrew

A Day with the Tudors at Strangers’ Hall

March 19th, 2011 · No Comments

I’ve been really lucky in my volunteering, as I’ve had the chance to explore both Norwich Castle and Strangers’ Hall, and it has been a lot of fun. This week I helped with Tudor Day at Strangers’ Hall, which is really a beautiful building.  It doesn’t look like much from outside, but inside there’s a feasting hall, stone passages – very cool. It’s the kind of place that I would have loved to let my imagination run wild in when I was younger. Our ‘time-travelers,’ as one of the interpretors refers to the visiting students, this week were nine year-olds from West Earlham School, and they were supposed to imagine that they were Strangers from the Low Countries who had come to Norwich in the year 1565. They were welcomed by Sir Thomas Southerton, the mayor, and he told them that some locals might not take kindly to them because they were viewed as a threat to Norwich’s weaving trade.

Like the other days when I’ve volunteered, there were four rotations – in one the students learned about feasting and cooking in Tudor times, in another they learned dancing, in the third they got to try on Tudor costumes and talk about how we know what the Tudors dressed like, and finally their craft was making a loom and doing a bit of weaving. They seemed to really take to all of the activities. I helped out with the costumes in the morning – I was in charge of getting the girls dressed. So I would introduce myself as their lady in waiting and help them with buttons, laces, the works. We had a few dress as servants, and then a few fine ladies who needed to be tied into bodices, helped with petticoats, the works. Once all of the students were dressed, the interpretor would take them through all of the parts of their outfits. They looked absolutely fantastic, and it was really fun.

In the afternoon I helped with the weaving activity, so handing out materials, helping tape yarn in the right places, and teaching the ‘over-under’ method of weaving. It was a ‘fiddly’ activity, but it went pretty well. I think that it was a really successful day for the kids, and I really enjoyed helping. I’ve also had a great time getting to know the interpretors. Our lunches always involve several cups of tea and a chat about something historical. The other week people were actually debating whether or not the Romans or the Iceni had a better claim to Norwich. The people who work these programs are really passionate about what they do, and it’s great to see. Unfortunately the budget is being cut for next year, so there will be less interpretors to run all of the different activities. This means that Museum Services is going to have to consolidate some of their programs, which is a shame because the students seem to take to these days really well. It’s the difference between reading a textbook and getting to use your imagination to bring history to life, which I think is so important.

Date: 17/3/2011

Time: 9:30-2:00

Total Hours: 17

Supervisor: Daniel Pounds

Tags: 2010 Holly